Redfin and LinkedIn recently released their rankings of best places to live for software engineers and Charlotte has topped the list. Silicon Valley in California used to top the list, but with rising housing costs, many software engineers can’t afford to live there, and definitely can’t afford to buy a home there, despite high salaries. This leads them to consider moving. There are many cities that are trying to rival San Francisco and Silicon Valley to become the next tech hubs, and Charlotte is one of the best.

Charlotte is very attractive to many people due to strong job growth and affordable housing. The other cities that ranked in the top five include Buffalo, New York; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Columbus, Ohio. All of these cities have four distinct seasons, international airports, perfect for work or business travel, and lots of choices for homes and jobs.

The rankings were a joint effort by Seattle-based Redfin, an online real estate brokerage, and LinkedIn, a California-based career networking site. The metrics they used meant that cities had to have year-over-year job growth over 3% and wages high enough to afford a median priced home in the market. This meant that homes had to cost less than 30% of a software engineer’s gross income.

Living in one of the traditional tech hub cities is less and less attractive to young people just entering the tech sector. They don’t yet command the higher salaries of people who have been working longer. There are many reasons that Charlotte is desirable for software engineers as well as people working in other industries. Here are just a few: 

  • The Lynx Light Rail is a great asset to the city, especially as they work on expansion plans. This means that people can live further away from the city and still commute in without causing gridlock on highways.
  • The many professional sports teams from NFL Football, to NASCAR, to NBA Basketball, help make Charlotte a world class destination.
  • Many museums in Uptown Charlotte are major draw for residents and visitors alike.
  • Johnson and Wales University culinary school has dramatically upped the food game in Charlotte.
  • There are many tech companies in the Charlotte area, with more coming to the area all the time.

This last factor, may be the most important. Charlotte is known for the banking industry, which has its own share of tech careers. There are also many other Fortune 500 companies Lowe’s and Nuccor being two of them. Besides those, there are many other smaller firms as well as start-ups that are really attractive. When you pair these companies with affordable cost of living, it’s no wonder that the population of Charlotte has grown from under 500,000 in 1995 to almost 900,000 residents in 2018 based on U.S. Census Bureau data. When you count the whole metropolitan area, there are now just over 2.5 million people ranking Charlotte 23rd in the nation. As long as companies still see Charlotte as a great home, software engineers will continue to find the area attractive and hopefully still affordable.